CSRC Working Paper 48

Stupid and Expensive? a critique of the costs-of-violence literature
Working Paper No : 48 (series 2)
Author(s) : Francisco Gutierrez-Sanin
Date : April 2009

This paper considers the impact of war and violence from a perspective of economic development. The author highlights conceptual issues that have often been disregarded in the costs-of-violence literature and outlines distinctions between bullionist, deadweight and distributive approaches. The paper examines key trends emerging from the existing literature and considers Colombia and Peru as case studies. The author concludes that a more careful approach to the data when assessing the costs of war could assist in understanding how and why war may on occasion lead to patterns of increased growth and welfare and how this could better inform policy interventions.